30 Aug 2013

Hungry bears becoming dangerous after Russian floods

8:03 am on 30 August 2013

Hungry wild bears are a danger to people in the far eastern Russian region of Yakutia where floods have destroyed their favourite food.

Six cases of break-ins by bears of houses have been reported in the past month in the town of Srednekolymsk, on the Kolyma river.

"They break in, empty the refrigerators," said regional hunting department head Nikolai Smetanin on Thursday.

"One bear climbed into a boat of a family that was picking berries. Other bears scavenge at cemeteries."

Supplies of blueberries, cranberries and lingon berries have shrunk this year because of flooding in the region.

"All the berries in the river valleys have been destroyed, bears have nothing to eat," said Mr Smetanin. "It's a dispiriting cataclysm."

Record rains and flooding have affected more than 50,000 people this month, Yakutia is one of the areas worst hit.

"We respect the bear, we treat it like it's another hunter,'' said Mr Smetanin. ''There won't be extermination of all bears."